Former Ohio Republican Party chair Matt Borges gets five years in prison in nuclear bailout scandal
Former Ohio Republican Party chair and lobbyist Matt Borges was sentenced to five years in prison on Friday for his role in the case involving the $1.3 billion nuclear power plant bailout law, House Bill 6. His sentencing is the latest in what's been called the largest bribery and money laundering scheme in state history.
His sentence came the day after U.S. District Judge Timothy Black sentenced Republican former Ohio House speaker Larry Householder to the maximum of 20 years in prison. In March, Householder was convicted of racketeering in the same trial as Borges, but prosecutors had described him as the mastermind behind the scheme.
Black admonished Borges for a lack of remorse and said, "Larry Householder was a crook and you knew it.”
During the sentencing hearing, Borges took responsibility for his involvement in the scandal.
"I'm here today for one reason and one reason only: my behavior, my decisions, my poor judgment,” Borges told the judge.
Just like Householder, Borges was immediately taken into custody and escorted from the courtroom.
Prosecutors said Borges, then a lobbyist for FirstEnergy, came into the scandal to stop a potential referendum on House Bill 6. Householder had pushed that sweeping energy legislation through in 2019 for FirstEnergy, which had funneled money for the effort through the dark money group Generation Now.
Prosecutors said Borges paid $15,000 in an attempt to bribe Tyler Fehrman, a Republican strategist who was working on the effort to put House Bill 6 before voters. Fehrman called the FBI when Borges told him he could make Fehrman’s money troubles go away in exchange for intel on the referendum campaign. In a meeting recorded by the FBI, Borges suggested he’d blow up Fehrman’s house if reporters found out about the bribe.
Borges put up no defense during the trial, saying he didn't feel prosecutors proved the charge against him.
Others charged in the case pleaded guilty months ago. Juan Cespedes, once a lobbyist for FirstEnergy Solutions, the subsidiary that owned the plants, and Householder's political strategist Jeff Longstreth pleaded guilty in October 2020, just a few months after the arrest of Householder and Borges. They both testified for the prosecution during the trial. Generation Now admitted guilt in February 2021. FirstEnergy entered a deferred plea agreement along with a $230 million fine in July 2021.